Linking National Volunteer Week and National Palliative Care Week, Warrnambool and District Hospice is launching an appeal to raise awareness of home services.
The Grattan Institute states 70 per cent of people want to die at home, while only 14 per cent actually do.
Palliative Care Victoria chief executive Violet Platt visited Warrnambool hospice for the first time since her appointment 11 months ago.
"I moved from Western Australia to Melbourne practically the week before COVID hit," Mrs Platt said. "I'd heard about the really good quality of care and the extent of services Warrnambool hospice provides from my colleagues in Melbourne."
Mrs Platt grew up in Northern Ireland before starting her nurse training on a cancer ward in Manchester's Christie Hospital in the mid-1980s. She worked in advocating for and strategic planning of palliative care in general hospitals around England before moving to the Isle of Man to establish palliative services on the island.
"We all know we're living longer now and that comes with more health issues," she said. "We know the need for palliative care services is rising exponentially so our job is to make sure we have resources in the right area.
"People don't like talking about death and many of us don't write wills. People keep a distance from death for as long as they can and we want the community to know that palliative care is everyone's business.
Warrnambool and district hospice manager Emmalee Bell said the most common feedback was that people wished they knew about the services sooner.
"Often people find out about us too late so we can only help them for a few weeks rather than months in advanced," she said. "Our aim is to keep people at home for as long as possible as people tend to feel more comfortable at home and want to be around their family and friend."
Ms Bell was appointed manager in November after discovering hospice through her work as a celebrant where she conducted the funeral of a 19-year-old who had been involved with the service.
"We want to demystify what death is and lift the huge weight of the fear of the unknown," she said.
"We want the community to be educated about end of life care is, it can be planning your funeral and making sure your wishes are known and carried out.
"Much of what we do is about the family and friends and the support they need. We can do simple things like the shopping to ease the burden of care. It's emotional support as well as practical."
Volunteer coordinator Leeorna van Duynhoven said there was currently about 40 active hospice volunteers in Warrnambool and well-over 100 people trained.
"In our recent training, more people applied than we had the space for," she said. "We've got the numbers, now we need people to know they can use the service.
"When we have a new patient, we put a team together of about five volunteers to work with the carer and patients.
"The volunteers build relationships that we aim to maintain throughout the time we have. Sometimes people can be part of hospice for over 18 months, other times it can be a week."
To donate to Warrnambool and District Hospice's winter appeal head to givenow.com.au/Warrnamboolhospice
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